You know there are a limited number of hours in the day, there’s only one of you, and you’re not getting any younger (just kidding! You’re looking fabulous).
You’d like to sell online. You’d like to create an e-course, whether on dealing with chronic health conditions, dealing with the everyday stresses and angst that modern life entails, or deepening physical, philosophical, emotional and spiritual practices.
But it’s in the too-hard basket, right? It’s doesn’t have to be so!
Begin at the beginning
The lean business or start-up business model is a great one for solopreneurs to adapt because we don’t have excess resources to spend developing big courses supported by big marketing budgets. We sometimes have to be keenly lean.
Before you go creating your course, you want to test the waters. You want to determine, as best you can, whether it’s something people will buy. You want to avoid spending a lot of time, effort and funds building something in the hope people buy.
Your social media communities, where you’ve been cultivating relationships, are perfect to test your ideas out. Having listened closely to your clients and heard their frustrations, worries and struggles, you’ve got two or three ideas for an e-course. So put it out to your social media community as an A, B or C affair. Make it easy for them to vote on which idea they prefer.
Some of their issues will be big, medium or small. Some they will happily pay to solve (or minimise) and some are issues they can tolerate for longer. You want to be selling the former.
Next, put up a simple sign-up page with a brief overview of the key benefits or outcomes of the course, plus a sign-up form collecting email addresses of people who want to be notified when it’s ready. Promote this page through all your usual online outlets – email newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Writing your course
Having determined, as best you can, which idea will work and starting to collect emails of interested prospects, you then write your course. This is the hardest part, particularly deciding what to put in and what to leave out.
You’ve got options here – to put the bulk of your course in emails; to host the majority on your website; to use video or audio, or keep it mainly text-based.
As well as copy versus audio versus video (or, indeed, all three), you need to decide whether to release all course materials in one hit or to send it out (via your professional email tool) over a series of days, weeks or months. Also to be determined are whether you’re going to start the course on a particular date so that everyone goes through it together, possibly with some live calls with you in the chair, or make it available to start at any time?
There are pros and cons for both parties and here’s where most of us fall over and the dream stays just that, a dream.
Online course software
Don’t go to town now. Unless you’ve got significant funds to invest, you don’t have to go all fancy on us.
At a minimum, you need a professional software tool. You also need access to your website to add info, using a content management system such as WordPress. That’s it.
At a minimum, you’ve set up an auto-responder with a series of emails set to go out (one immediately, one two days later, one five days following that, etc) which introduces each lesson and links to your website, where course participants can access additional information and/or download PDFs onto their computer.
At the sophisticated end, you could develop a brand new, secure, membership-based website accessed by each participant’s login details. Your site could have videos with corresponding worksheets, checklists, additional resource details, a member forum and other downloadables, and you’d have a support person to help answer the curly techie questions that course participants would have.
You don’t need all this. Start with simple. Run the first course, run it again and again, refine and shine, and upgrade thoughtfully, with the profits you earn from the early runs.
Keep your eyes on the task at hand
Your brilliance lies in your content – not in whether it comes out on a Tuesday or Wednesday, uses video or involves a teleconference or three. Don’t get derailed by overwhelm, anxiety and arguments over the finer details of how it’ll be delivered.
Keep your eyes on the task at hand – getting deep into the heart of the problem and helping people solve it.
They’re paying for your insights, wisdom and guidance through overcoming their issues, whether those are having troubling getting to sleep or staying asleep, managing their stress and anxiety over raising young children or teenagers, communicating more effectively with their partner and experiencing greater relationship satisfaction, dealing with chronic back pain, managing diabetes, or overcoming lack of concentration and focus.
There are countless issues and problems that you can help with. This is your value. Don’t get distracted or deterred by the minutiae of this versus that software, this versus that tool.
Keep your delivery simply. Save your time, attention and heart for the content.
Marketing alongside creation
When you’re 75 per cent of the way through your course creation, start marketing in earnest. Return to your course sign-up page and turn it into a sales page. Spend three quarters of the page talking about the issues, worries, or problems you’re solving and the outcomes and benefits of your course. Spend the final quarter of your page talking about the format, the price and your terms and conditions.
Remember, if you’re planning to sell this over and over and over (which is where the profit comes in), you’ll need to be marketing seriously and consistently. You’ll need to keep driving traffic to your opt-in or sign-up page. In time, you may consider creating a free mini-course as a pre-launch warm-up to your paid course.
You’ll need to get out there and grow your network and meet people with their own networks with whom to collaborate and promote with.
But for goodness sake, start. Start today. Don’t get deterred by the sophisticated, complicated technology, the for-and-against, the competition. Don’t get distracted. Don’t give up.
Start with the problem worth solving. Focus on the content. Get going. The world needs what you have.